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Profile of a Workplace Bully

written by: Eduard Ezeanu•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 6/21/2011

Every once in a while you meet someone in the workplace who can make your work days a hell. Their hostile, confrontational behavior does nothing but make you feel bad and deteriorate your work productivity. This is a workplace bully.

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    Recognizing the Culprit

    Bully Unfortunately, although many organizations try to ensure a positive work environment for their employees, every once in a while you will find a few people in the organizational structures who seem to do nothing else but create a bad atmosphere wherever they are.

    This kind of a person is a workplace bully. The topic of establishing the profile of workplace bully types so they can be quickly identified is becoming an increasingly important one in organizational development.

    You need to understand the profile of a workplace bully in order to deal with bullying at work effectively. Here are the essential clues which will help you recognize a workplace bully in a timely manner:

    1) Self-absorption. A workplace bully does not care about anyone and anything except their own person. They have no interest in helping others, in being friendly and getting along. They do not see value in this; they only see value in tooling other people.

    2) Obsession with status. The things a workplace bully values the most is power and status. They desperately want to have status; they are visibly preoccupied with dominating other people and they are willing to do this in almost any way.

    3) Aggressive communication. A workplace bully will often criticize, blame, yell at people, call them names and so on. Their communication style is fueled by anger and their need to dominate. This style of communication quickly makes people either shut it or become aggressive themselves.

    4) Exaggerated teasing. The workplace bully will not stop at making a few jokes. They will constantly tease people and make fun of them, especially in public and especially in ways which really hurt. The fact the other person does feel hurt is just good news for the bully.

    5) Lying. A typical workplace bully has no interest in honesty, only in getting what they want. For this reason, they will not hesitate to lie, deceive and manipulate people. Often, since they have a lot of practice, they are masters of making huge lies sound like honest truths.

    6) Using others. It is very common for a workplace bully to get other people to do part of their work, lend them office supplies which they do not give back and help them in general, without helping back. Some workplace bullies can cultivate a small army of ‘slaves’ at work.

    7) Threatening people. In order to get what they want in the workplace, workplace bullies will no hesitate to threat people. If they can get you to do something by being afraid of them, they will do so. They know fear can be a good tool to create obedience so they will often use it without holding back.

    Fundamentally, dealing with workplace bullies means dealing with toxic people. The better you can profile workplace bully behavior and personality, the better equipped you are for dealing with them. Beyond this point, dealing with them is mostly about having confidence and good communication skills.

    Image credit: Alex E. Proimos / Flickr